If you are a secretary or an assistant, you have a key position. I have seen it many times at several companies.
Maybe the boss makes the decision but what is it worth if the implementation is not of high quality. And it is at this stage that you can make the best use of all your skills. Here I mean people skills, writing skills, communication skills, computer skills and this is far from a complete list.
In many cases nowadays you have to do these tasks in English. In this short post I would like to give some tips and ideas on how to improve your English with a special focus on secretarial skills.
Being professional on the phone is a top priority. If you make a call and you speak good English, you have all the chances to achieve what you want. To improve your phoning skills you need a lot of practice and listening.
I advise you to have online lessons without a camera. You will be surprised how much you can improve your listening skills in skype lessons. I can also recommend the In Company series. The books on all levels have a unit on phoning. Listen to them hundreds of times.
Being good with numbers whether on the phone or in an Excel table is also crucial. Remember the difference between commas and points. Study how to refer to fractions and decimals. You can easily practise this by dictating numbers to your teacher and then by doing the same the other way around. The favourite In Company series also focus on these issues.
Numbers, Years, Length and Dates in English
3. Small talk. Cultural differences.
If your company is involved in international business, it is of key importance to learn about cultural differences. With the right behaviour, style and words you are in a good position to make a deal. Take care you avoid intercultural pitfalls due to cultural differences.
You can find preparatory materials in a number of Business English books like In Company or New Insights into Business. If you have or your boss has a really important deal to negotiate, you may even ask for the help of a consultancy.
4. Writing skills. Reports and emails.
Accuracy and style are as important as content as far as writing is concerned especially if you are writing to the headquarters abroad. So my advice is that you should make sure your grammar is good enough. I mean it is useful to know the difference between ’did not need to be’ and ’needn’t have been’ for example.
To learn the appropriate style you can read similar documents and then practise, practise and practise. Writing is a skill that you can only improve if you practise. Your style will be getting nicer and you will feel more experienced.
Don’t forget with good English you will be the key to the company’s success. 🙂 Good luck!!